Weighing scale. Some people worry about weight gain after starting a smoking cessation programme.

How to Quit Smoking

You've started on your quit journey — written down your motivations for quitting, thought through the different quit methods (such as going cold turkey or using nicotine replacement therapy), and armed yourself with strategies to fight the urge to smoke.

You may also have heard about some ex-smokers putting on extra pounds after quitting, and you don't like the idea of gaining a spare tyre and having your friends comment that you look more “prosperous”.

Don't worry, not everyone gains weight after quitting! Plus, there are ways we can manage our weight and avoid weight gain after stubbing out. Let's check out the strategies.

Is Quitting a Weighty Issue?

First, a brief explanation of why we might gain weight after quitting smoking.

Smoking dulls our taste buds, making food seem bland. After quitting, we recover our sense of taste — suddenly, everything tastes yummier, and we start noticing the fragrance of nasi lemak or the subtle wok hei of hor fun.

We might find ourselves indulging a little more than usual too.

Here's the issue: when we eat more than usual while keeping the same level of physical activity, the extra calories consumed have nowhere to go — and they get stored as extra padding and weight.

So, quitting doesn't directly cause weight gain; what we do after we stop smoking matters more, especially in the long term.

Related: Energy Balance – the Only Diet That Works

How to Quit Smoking Without Gaining Weight

The good news: not everyone gains weight after quitting. And even if we do put on a little weight, it can be lost with proper diet and exercise (plus the health benefits of quitting last​ a lifetime), so don't be discouraged!

To help you manage your weight on your journey to smoke-free, here are some tips to keep the kilos away.

Eat Regular, Balanced Meals

Eat small, well-balanced meals throughout the day — My Healthy Plate is a helpful tool to keep your portions and balance in check.

And remember not to skip meals: you might end up munching on unhealthy snacks to curb your hunger or binge-eating later in the day.

Snack Smart

After quitting, you might turn to snacks to keep your “itchy” mouth busy; this could also contribute to weight gain.

The solution? Replace high-fat and sugar-rich snacks with low-calorie healthy snacks like fresh fruit and veggies.

Snack Ideas for Your Quit Journey

Need something crunchy to munch on? Try D-I-Y popcorn seasoned with your favourite herbs and spices, like garlic or curry powder. For those with a sweet tooth, trade ice cream for blended frozen bananas — they're just as creamy and delicious!

Drink Up

Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Drinking keeps your mouth busy, and downing a glass before a meal helps prevent overeating. Staying hydrated helps with the cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms too!

Move More

Increase your physical activity — just 30 minutes a day for five days a week can do wonders for your weight and health! If you are overweight, now would be a great time to start losing weight for the health benefits too.

Exercise burns calories and also releases happy hormones that help you stay positive on your quit journey.

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit 28-Day Countdown now! Call QuitLine at 1800 438 2000 to talk to our trained Quit Consultants, or visit participating retail pharmacies to speak to an on-duty pharmacist.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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